CPD: The formal side of lifelong learning

01 Jun 2015 The Navigator

Formalised schemes of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) can range from very straightforward to extremely complex. Steven Gosling, Training and Quality Manager at The Nautical Institute, examines the Institute’s own formal CPD process

Formalised CPD, that is, CPD that is backed up by a formal assurance process, was created by professional bodies to help manage and record their member’s professional development (see p 10 for more information on professional bodies and what they do). Confusingly, learning and development activities outside any formalised process can also be referred to as CPD. In this article, we look at how taking part in the formal process can help you plan and manage your own professional development.

Some professional bodies require that their members take part in a formal CPD process. The Nautical Institute has a voluntary CPD process that trusts our members to regulate their own learning and development, but allows them to plan and record it formally if they wish.

The Nautical Institute’s own definition of CPD is:
“The process that enables maritime professionals to take control of their own learning and development by carrying out activities that ensure they are competent and successful throughout their career, both at sea and ashore.”

Marine navigators are awarded their initial professional qualification (Certificate of Competence) after prolonged education and training. At this moment, they are deemed competent by their Flag State administration. But what about five or ten years later?

Can navigators still be assumed to be competent simply because they have served at sea, and remained medically fit? The answer is ‘no’. For this reason, they must manage their own competence and development proactively. To help navigators approach this in a planned way, The Nautical Institute has built a bespoke assurance process for its members called CPD Online.

CPD Online is a straightforward, fourstage process that uses online downloadable templates to plan and record progress. The diagram depicts the four-stage CPD cycle. Each stage asks a set of questions that you will need to answer to manage your learning and professional development to achieve your CPD goal, or goals. This might be learning more about ECDIS, or getting your next ticket, for example – whatever you have decided is important when you have completed your research. Once all stages are complete, you have completed a ‘CPD cycle’. You complete a CPD cycle for each goal set. Since some goals will take longer than others to achieve, this may take weeks, months or even years.

Importantly, navigators using the system determine their own learning and development needs. With some dedication and effort, the result is a structured, systematic approach to your own competence assurance and professional development; exactly what shipowners, promotion panels or prospective employers are looking for.

Having completed a cycle for each CPD goal, the navigator will have created their own CPD portfolio, which may be submitted electronically to The Nautical Institute for annual validation. This provides formal feedback, and checks that the CPD process is being followed correctly and optimally. It also results in a validation certificate (which can be added to your CV, LinkedIn profile etc.), as evidence that you are taking competence and professional development seriously. In a world of rapidly changing technologies, constantly evolving legal frameworks and emerging best practice at sea, the navigator who can demonstrate this is set apart from the rest.

What CPD did for me...

NAME: Gerardine Delanoye
POSITION: Programme Manager

When I joined the training and capacity building arm of IALA, I embarked upon inhouse professional development training. Professional development has always formed part of my maritime career.
When I was 18, I ran a charter company with my husband using an historic 25-metre sailing vessel, operating in Dutch and French inland waters. To do this properly, I undertook a series of experience-based distancelearning courses, combined with formal instruction. This qualified me to act as a Master of barge pushing units on the river Rhine for two years, before qualifying as a VTS operator for the river Scheldt. Later on, I was appointed head of the VTS training institute in The Netherlands. I have followed a continuing process of professional development over 21 years and am still learning every day.

NAME: Captain Kuba Szymanski
POSITION: Secretary General

We need to exercise the brain; without exercise it is likely to die. I personally hate hearing someone tell me that they must be good, because they have been “Master or chief engineer for 25 years”. When I hear this phrase, I immediately think: “it’s one year of experience, repeated 25 times, with little learnt.”
In order not to fall into the same trap, I have to have a plan. CPD helps me do that and reflect on my performance. Am I happy with it? What gaps do I have? What solutions are available? I know I’m expected to speak in public, so I’ve attended presentation courses, mastered new skills and overcome my fear of speaking in a foreign (to me) language in front of an audience. I have also decided to keep my sea-going tickets, so must go to sea regularly to renew them.

NAME: Mikhail Konoplev
POSITION: Fleet Crewing Manager

In 2007, I graduated from the Navigation faculty of the Admiral Makarov Maritime Academy in Russia. While I was working as a navigator onboard cruise ships and oil tankers, I studied for my PhD during vacations. After four years at sea, I completed an MSc in Shipping Management at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden. After graduating, I started work in a ship management company, where my practical experience from sea, theoretical background from my PhD study and my useful knowledge from WMU helped me progress my career.

In my current position, professional development is very important for me. That is why I actively participate in the activities of both The Nautical Institute and Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, and follow industry news and changes.

NAME: Captain Gopal Krishnan
POSITION: Principal Investigator
ORGANISATION: TIE Maritime Institute, Singapore

I set out to sea as an apprentice on a single screw ship (without a bow thruster). At my first forward station for berthing, I was told to send out the head line and forward back spring. I questioned why we were sending it in this order. My Captain spoke about transverse thrust etc. This got me rushing to find books on the subject.
While training for my CoC 3, 2 and Master Mariner qualifications, new technology brought impressive navigational equipment onto the bridge. I learnt the principles behind it, rather than just focussing on “knob-ology” to pass exams. This deeper knowledge came in extremely useful during my Command days, when my navigators had difficulty coping with technology. Professional development is not about being a certified navigator,

NAME: Captain Richard Teo
POSITION: Director

After two decades of seagoing, military service and commercial practice, I discovered a Master’s ticket was quite insufficient without competencies in law, commerce, leadership, management, and education. Continuing professional development became a byword for the next three decades.

When I accepted a teaching position at the Charles Darwin University in Australia, I had to be formally trained as a tertiary educator. This comprised work-based experiential learning, competencybased education, training and assessments. Engaging with industry and stakeholders provided me with lifelong learning opportunities in-situ. I shared competencies, knowledge and skills in cross-cultural communities, commercial, industry and governmental needs. Memberships of boards and committees engaged in education, skills development, trades and government added value to my lifelong learning and contributed to my doctoral research.
Today I help others navigate, applying lifelong learning skills. A far cry from when I went to sea.